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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Jerusalem bans gay pride parade
An Israeli soldier holds a rainbow-coloured flag at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem on 3 June 2004
Jerusalem says holding a gay pride parade would be 'provocative'
Jerusalem authorities have said they are banning a gay pride parade planned for next week, saying the event would be "provocative" and set off unrest.

The Jerusalem Open House group, which is organising the march scheduled for 30 June, said it would challenge the decision in court on Sunday.

The organisation said police had already approved the parade route.

The event has been held for the last three years and previously passed off peacefully albeit under heavy security.

"It wouldn't be right to authorise the march and the related festivities in Jerusalem out of the concern that it would be provocative and hurt the feelings of the broader public living in and visiting the city," the municipality said in a public notice to the organisers.

The actions of the mayor, and those carrying out his policies, are injurious to the values of freedom of expression
Hagai El-Ad
Jerusalem Open House director

Open House dismissed the comments.

"The actions of the mayor, and those carrying out his policies, are injurious to the values of freedom of expression," said director Hagai El-Ad.

"The city of Jerusalem continues in its discriminatory policy against the Jerusalem Open House and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jerusalem."

'Sodom' fears

Three months ago, Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders held a news conference calling for gay festivals in Jerusalem to be banned.

They said a gay parade through the city could spark violence.

One Muslim cleric suggested gay events in Jerusalem would attract divine wrath similar to that which destroyed the biblical city of Sodom.

Several weeks ago, Jerusalem Open House postponed an international gay event, Jerusalem WorldPride 2005, that had been scheduled for August and would have coincided with Israel's planned Gaza pullout.

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